International Ice Hockey Federation

Asterix: The Hockey Way

Asterix: The Hockey Way

Indomitable France tops Italy at 2008 Worlds

Published 25.04.2017 15:10 GMT+2 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Asterix: The Hockey Way
Like Asterix and his friends overcoming the Roman army, France eliminated Italy in the 2008 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship relegation round. Photos: Editions Albert René, Matthew Manor / HHOF-IIHF Images
Could French coach Dave Henderson’s Gaulish warriors defeat the Roman legions in the 2008 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship relegation round?

Leading up to the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, we’re dedicating one article to each day of the tournament, making a tongue-in-cheek comparison between an Asterix comic book and famous aspects of international hockey history.

For Day One, we honour France, which co-hosts this year’s tournament with Germany and is also the homeland of the ancient Gauls. In Asterix the Gaul, the very first comic book by writer Rene Goscinny and illustrator Albert Uderzo in 1961, a tiny village foils the Roman army’s plot to complete its conquest of occupied Gaul.

By Toutatis! This evokes the time France beat the odds to stay in the elite division at the 2008 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship – with two exciting wins over Italy!

Things didn’t start well for the French in Quebec City. Surrounded by superior opponents, they lost 4-1 to Switzerland, 9-0 to Sweden, and 3-1 to Belarus. But when they battled Italy in the best-of-three relegation round, their recipe for success was great team spirit plus the coaching of Dave Henderson, the national team’s version of the venerable village druid Getafix. Henderson gave Les Bleus inspiration and structure, and that was the only magic potion they needed!

Like Obelix hoisting menhirs (enormous standing stones), top French defenceman Baptiste Amar and starting goalie Cristobal Huet did the heavy lifting. Amar averaged a team-high 26:44 and tied with forward Julien Desrosiers for the French scoring lead (2-3-5). Huet made a whopping 40 saves in France’s opening 3-2 win over Italy and another 41 saves in the clinching 6-4 victory. Rome was defeated!

In the book, Getafix comically makes the Roman soldiers sprout long beards. Unfortunately for coach Fabio Polloni’s Italian players, they didn’t stick around long enough to grow playoff beards. But there was a silver lining: unlike the Roman soldiers, who get exiled to Outer Mongolia by Julius Caesar for their failure, the Italians were only sent down to Division I!

Meanwhile, the French celebrated their achievement as if they were devouring roast wild boar at the traditional village feast that concludes each Asterix book. What a perfect way for them to mark the IIHF’s 100th anniversary. Since then, France has never been relegated!

This is a 17-part series prior to the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, of which Asterix and Obelix are the official mascots. Click on News to find the stories.


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